Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound, and Subjectivity
Listening, Place, and Space
This chapter explores listening practices in a soundwalk through consideration of Luce Irigaray’s ideas about intimate and ethical listening. The conceptualization of love as involving listening that is not yet coded but instead is open to the unknown is discussed as a valuable theoretical model for improvisational listening in public spaces, ideal for understanding the unpredictable shifts and changes of the sound environment. The structure of the soundwalk favors listening conversations that acknowledge partial knowledges (Donna Haraway) and intimate risk in soundwalking improvisation.
This chapter explores improvisation as a methodology for the creation of community-engaged, site-specific sound art projects. It presents a case study of the international new media audio art project Community Sound [e]Scapes to investigate how improvisation can be used as an artistic and social methodology to explore space and address community issues. The chapter analyzes examples from the project sites in Canada, Northern Ireland, and Australia, as well as examples from the online components of the project, to show how improvisation shaped both the planning and design of the project and changed the artistic and social outcomes. Framed in Lefebvrean spatiality theory, critical studies in improvisation, and recent scholarship in community engaged performance, the author argues that improvisation in community-engaged sound art carries risks and exposes the fault lines in power relationships in community partnerships, while simultaneously presenting new tools for ethical spatial and social engagement.